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Date
circa 1895 - 1975
Collection/Fonds
Handford Studio collection
Description Level
Fonds
Physical Description
approx. 11,418 glass plate negatives; approx. 8,085 cellulose negatives; approx 1500 nitrate negatives; approx. 655 prints
Date
circa 1895 - 1975
Format
photographic
Collection/Fonds
Handford Studio collection
Description Level
Fonds
Physical Description
approx. 11,418 glass plate negatives; approx. 8,085 cellulose negatives; approx 1500 nitrate negatives; approx. 655 prints
Physical Condition
glass plate negs are in poor condition.
Conservation
Glass plates have been dry cleaned using vacuum and brush. Many of the glass plate negatives were dirty, some of them are fused together due to dampness. All negs were re-housed. Nitrate negatives have been scanned to the computer and attached to the database, before the negatives were destroyed.
History / Biography
Samuel Augustus Lewis Handford was born in Exeter Ontario on August 29, 1872. His father, Silas Handford immigrated from Devon England when he was very young, first to the United States and then to Western Ontario. Silas Handford gave up farming in the early 1900's when he started hauling vegetables to canning factories in the area. Samuel Augustus ("Gus") Lewis Handford started his career as an apprentice photographer to Mr. Joe Senior of Exeter, Ontario. At the age of 16, he moved to London and worked for another photographer for two years. He then moved to Ottawa and worked for a photographer who may have been George A. Snider. Snider operated a studio on Bank Street but also had a branch in Renfrew in 1895. According to his grandson Edward, he also worked for Robert Sim who operated a studio in Renfrew from 1870 - 1914. While in Ottawa, he met Grace E. Young, daughter of James A. Young of Sand Point. Grace was attending the Conservatory of Music. When she graduated in 1894, she returned to her home in Sand Point. Gus followed her there, set up his own photographic business and married Grace on August 17, 1896. They had two sons, Edward and Herbert and one daughter Lillian who taught physical education in Renfrew. Edward Young Handford and Herb L. Handford both became doctors who practiced in Renfrew in the Handford building into the 1980's. A. L. Handford started operating his photographic business in the McAndrew building in downtown Renfrew. Various sources list 1895 as the date he was established, but a business card held by the Handford family reads "established 1893". By 1903, construction of a substantial brick building at the corner of Raglan and Plaunt street commenced. According to his grandson Edward Handford Jr., the building was started by someone else, but Gus took it over. The Handford block contained large show rooms with 12 foot ceilings and a studio on one side of the ground floor. Handford sold frames, records, paintings and some appliances in the early years. According to Edward Handford Jr., he also sold Grey Dort automobiles at one time with the lot located at the back of the building off Renfrew street. J. M. Ferguson rented the other side of the store front for a "Ladies Emporium" from 1905 - 1907. Lindsay's Ottawa Music Company occupied the additional storefront from 1909 - 1915. The second floor of the building provided living quarters for the Handford family from 1903 - 1915. At this time, a peaked glass roof was constructed to provide light for the photographic studio below. The Handford family relocated to a large home at Raglan Street south, almost directly behind the Agricultural Society's Fair Grounds. A.L. Handford operated an Arnprior branch for a short time between 1920 - 1923 with his brother Wilber Wilton Handford (1880 - 1942). The business was known as the 'Handford Bros. Studio' at that time. A.L. Handford served on Renfrew town council and was a long-time member of the Marion Lodge of the International Order of Odd Fellows. He liked to camp at Sand Bay on the Ottawa river with his family and enjoyed recreational sports. While out and about in Renfrew, Handford used a Graphlex camera with roll film for easy handling once this type of camera was available. He documented many of the places in town and sold post cards that were popular with townspeople and visitors alike. The following excerpt from "The Story of Renfrew" describes his abilities as a portrait photographer, especially of young children, "Gus Handford was excellent when it came to photographing children. He could always make them smile. This was in the day of slow focussing - no fast film then - but he was able to capture their attention with a rattle of by jingling his keys. He had the knack of being able to click the shutter just when the right look appeared in the subject's eyes, and he always had a shot where the person looked intelligent." Throughout the years, various Renfrew Collegiate teams and graduation classes had their portraits taken at the Handford Studio. Hockey, Lacross and Baseball teams were all painstakenly documented by A. L. Handford, who would often draw in the date on a team ball or hockey cup. He often took individual team member photos and devised a collage for a "group" shot that was very popular with the teams. A typical example of this kind of collage team photo was published in Renfrew's Centennial Official Program of 1958. It shows the Renfrew Millionnaires Hockey Team of 1909 - 1910. This team put Renfrew on the map and brought reporters from far and wide to Renfrew to cover the moves of Bert Lindsay, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor and others. Various employees worked for Handford throughout the years. The longest serving member of staff, Miss Thursa Stringer worked for Handford's from the 1930's to 1973. Others were Mr. Cook, Mr. Paul, Lilley Splane and Eva Splane. Mrs. Handford took over the business when Gus went hunting each fall. His daughter Lillian also helped out in the studio after her father died in 1949. Edward Handford Jr. (grandson of A. L. Handford) operated the business in Renfrew from 1955 to 1975. Ed was a Kodak dealer, continuing the tradition that his grandfather started fifty years before him. He was very busy photographing and processing weddings and insurance claims throughout the 1960's and early 1970's. At times, he was booked for six weddings on the same day! The business was closed in the mid 1970's when Ed Handford moved to Ottawa.
Acquisition Source
The collection was deposited in the Arnprior McNab/Braeside Archives May 8, 2008. Prior to the move, the negatives were stored in Griffith Ontario at the home of Edward Handford, father of the donor. The negatives were moved from the Handford Studio in Renfrew to Ottawa at one time, and then taken to Griffith in 1993. In 2012, Karen (Handford) Yolkowski and Ed Handford donated approx 100 negatives and 50 prints which were originally part of the Handford Studio Collection. These are described in Series 9.
Scope and Content
The Handford Studio Collection consists of a number of series of photographic records:
Series 1 - Glass Plate Negatives, Sub-Series 1.1 - 3 x 4 inch negs, Sub-Series 1.2 - 5 x 7 inch negs
Series 2 - Cellulose Negatives
Series 3 - Nitrate Negatives
Series 4 - Handford Studio Portraits, Sub-Series 4.1 - Card Index
Series 5 - Handford Negs
Series 9 - Negatives and Images (accrual)
Arrangement
A. L. Handford kept his negatives in original boxes in the early period and in envelopes in the later period. This original order has been retained and forms a loosely based chronological arrangement of the fonds. Arrangement by the archivist into series was based upon the physical format of the negatives contained in the collection. This arrangement was based on the needs of the archives in terms of processing and handling this large collection during the initial, descriptive phase as well as in future. For instance, the glass plates have been divided into two sub-series based on size. This was done for two reasons. The first was that the smaller plates could be stored in a single wooden cabinet, so retreival is fairly straightforward. Also, the box numbers for glass plates were duplicated within the two sizes. It is much easier to determine which box 60 you wish to retreive knowing which size plate you are searching for. In addition to ease of access, the arrangement into series based on format also allows photographic historians to focus their attention on a particular type of record. The nitrate negatives were handled off-site by a volunteer so that this work could proceed in tandem with other descriptive work carried on by other volunteers. The nitrate negatives have since been destroyed.
Notes
Photographs in this collection contain language from the era in which it was written. This includes problematic wording, cultural references, and stereotypes that are no longer used or appropriate today. Titles and content descriptions provided for the photographs in this collection derive from the indexes created by Handford Studio. AMBA is working to provide further disclaimers where appropriate for individual items.
See reference book the Centennial Harpooner for cross-referencing of portraits.
Access Restriction
HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE
Accession No.
2008-0233
2009-0237
Less detail